- Last Updated on 05:27 PM 09/16/12
- BY Special to the Gazette
Halifax County High School seniors Dustin Meadors and Shonque’l Betts recently returned from competing in the WoodLINKS Ready to Assemble competition at the International Woodworking Fair in Atlanta, Ga. A third member of the design team, Jared Owen, is a freshman at Liberty University and was unable to make the trip to Atlanta because of classes.
The students were accepted to the national competition because of a design they created as dual enrollment students in the WoodLINKS program at the Southern Virginia Higher Education Center.
Their competition entry was a unique lamp design called “Universal Light Bulb.” Shaped like a traditional incandescent light bulb, “Universal Light Bulb” uses an energy-efficient compact florescent bulb to create an intersection between old and new.
Being accepted to the prestigious competition gave Meadors and Betts real world experience in producing and marketing an original product, according to Clint Johnson, Product Design & Development instructor at the Southern Virginia Higher Education Center.
After working through the summer to improve their design, they took it to the International Woodworking Fair where they had to man a booth and act as salesmen.
In addition, Meadors and Betts had to submit a marketing plan, assembly instructions, assembly drawings and a one-page description.
“This year the students stepped it up by including the packaging for the product. They made a box, and used Digital Art & Design program skills to make graphics for their box so it looked shelf-ready. They also used video and created a commercial,” Johnson said.
“It’s interesting to see what it takes to build a business,” Meadors said. “You have to have the builders and the sellers--it’s really a team effort.”
After judging, the students found out they placed fourth in the nation. While Meadors and Betts admittedly were disappointed, they believe the experience has given them something more valuable than a blue ribbon.
“It was a very educational experience. I got to meet people from all over the world, and this experience helped us put our foot in the door for future business opportunities,” said Meadors. “Even though we didn’t finish in a high position, we’re still fourth in the nation, and we were picked out of probably thousands of schools to compete,” he continued.
Johnson agreed saying, “The students being able to compete on a national stage was great experience for them. It was great exposure to other schools and the wood industry as a whole,” Johnson said. “The fair is international, and there were companies from literally all over the world showing their goods. Dustin and Shonque’l were able to walk around the show floor, talk about their product and get an idea of how big the wood industry is. They see that they can go out and do whatever they want to do in the woodworking industry,” Johnson said.
Meadors and Betts don’t plan on letting the Universal Lightbulb fade just because the competition is over. They are expanding the marketing plan they submitted for the competition to create a business plan that will allow them to successfully produce their product. They’ve also started building a website, and they plan to have a booth at the Halifax County Fair.
In the meantime, Meadors and Betts are reaching out to companies who expressed an interest in their product at the International Woodworking Fair, and they’re taking orders through their Gmail account. The Universal Lightbulb is priced at $53, and if they receive 100 orders or more the lamp will go into production. With the Universal Lighbulb lighting the way, a fourth place finish has never been so bright.
The dual enrollment WoodLINKS USA program focuses on Product Design & Development and is open to sophomore, junior and senior students. Community college courses in Product Design & Development, offered in partnership with Danville Community College, are also offered at the Southern Virginia Higher Education Center.